The Sacré Coeur in Paris: A Complete Visitor’s Guide

Introduction to Sacré-Cœur

Overview of Sacré-Cœur

The Sacré-Cœur, or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris. Perched atop the highest point in the city, the butte Montmartre, it offers breathtaking views of Paris. This Roman Catholic church is a political and cultural monument and an emblem of the heart of Paris. Its distinctive white dome is a familiar sight in the Parisian skyline and the basilica is visited by millions of tourists each year.

Sacre Coeur Paris Guide

Location and How to Get to Sacré-Cœur

The Sacré-Cœur is located in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, in the popular Montmartre district. It’s easily accessible by public transport. The Anvers metro station (Line 2) and the Abbesses metro station (Line 12) are the closest, but from either station be prepared for a bit of a climb or consider taking the funicular up the hill.

History of Sacré-Cœur

Origin and Creation of Sacré-Cœur

The idea for the Sacré-Cœur was conceptualized following the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the turbulent Paris Commune of 1871. It was intended as a moral remedy for the suffering and hardships endured by the French people during this time. Construction of the basilica began in 1875 and was completed in 1914, although the consecration of the basilica was delayed until the end of World War I in 1919.

Historical Significance of Sacré-Cœur

The Sacré-Cœur is not just a religious monument, but also a political one. It was built as a symbol of the return of self-confidence after a period of war and turmoil and stands as a powerful reminder of the historical events that shaped modern France.

Evolution of Sacré-Cœur Over the Years

Over the years, the Sacré-Cœur has become one of the most important landmarks in Paris. It has been maintained and restored several times to preserve its original beauty. Today, it’s not just a place of worship, but also a popular tourist attraction that draws people from all over the world.

Architectural Heritage of Sacré-Cœur

Notable Features of Sacré-Cœur Architecture

The Sacré-Cœur is a marvel of Romano-Byzantine architecture. The basilica’s distinctive white travertine stone façade is adorned with equestrian statues of France’s national saints, Joan of Arc and King Saint Louis IX. The basilica’s large central dome, which reaches a height of 83 meters, is one of its most striking features and provides a panoramic view of the city of Paris.

The Dome: A Panoramic View of Paris

One of the highlights of a visit to the Sacré-Cœur is the climb to the top of the dome. From here, you can enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view of Paris. The climb is not for the faint-hearted—it involves scaling over 300 steps—but the reward is one of the best views in the city.

The Bell Tower and the Savoyarde Bell

The bell tower of the Sacré-Cœur houses the Savoyarde Bell. Cast in Annecy in 1895, it is one of the world’s heaviest bells, weighing in at over 19 tons. The bell is named for the Savoy region, whose four dioceses donated the necessary metal.

Inside Sacré-Cœur

The Grand Mosaic of Christ in Glory

One of the most stunning features inside the Sacré-Cœur is the grand mosaic of Christ in Glory, which is one of the largest mosaics in the world. This magnificent piece of art depicts Jesus with outstretched arms, with the Virgin Mary and Saint Joan of Arc at his feet.

The Crypt of Sacré-Cœur

The crypt of the Sacré-Cœur is a must-visit. It is one of the largest crypts in the world and contains numerous chapels. The crypt also houses a relic that is said to be the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a symbol of God’s love for humanity.

The Grand Organ

The grand organ of the Sacré-Cœur is considered one of the most remarkable in Paris. Built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, a famous French organ builder, the organ is used for services and concerts throughout the year.

Tickets and Visiting Sacré-Cœur

Pricing for Special Attractions

Entrance to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is free of charge, allowing everyone to enjoy its spiritual and architectural beauty. However, there is a small fee if you wish to ascend to the top of the dome or visit the crypt. It’s recommended to check the latest information on the official website or at the entrance of the basilica.

Where and How to Buy Tickets

Tickets for the dome and the crypt can be purchased on-site at the entrance. Please note that access to the dome and crypt may be restricted during religious services.

Best Time to Visit Sacré-Cœur

The Sacré-Cœur is beautiful all year round, but it can get quite crowded during the peak tourist season (summer) and on weekends. Early morning or late evening visits can help avoid the crowds. The basilica is open daily from 6 am to 10:30 pm, while access to the dome and crypt is usually from 9 am to 5 pm (or 6 pm during the summer).

Hotels Near Sacré-Cœur

Top Hotels and Accommodations

There are numerous hotels located near the Sacré-Cœur, catering to a range of budgets and preferences. Some top-rated options include the Terrass” Hotel, Hotel Montmartre Mon Amour, and Hotel Des Arts Montmartre. These hotels offer comfortable accommodations and easy access to the basilica.

Budget-friendly Options

For those traveling on a budget, there are also several affordable hotels and hostels in the vicinity of the Sacré-Cœur. These include the Le Village Montmartre by Hiphophostels and the Hotel de Paris Montmartre.

Luxury Stays

For a more luxurious stay, consider hotels like the Maison Souquet or the Hotel Particulier Montmartre. These high-end hotels offer top-notch amenities and services, ensuring a comfortable and indulgent stay.

Activities in and around Sacré-Cœur

Exploring the Montmartre District

The Sacré-Cœur is located in the historic and artistic district of Montmartre. Known for its bohemian past, Montmartre is filled with cobbled streets, quaint cafes, and studios that once housed artists like Picasso and Van Gogh. Take a stroll around the district, visit the famous Place du Tertre where artists display their work, and don’t miss the Montmartre Vineyards, one of the last working vineyards in Paris.

Visiting the Artists’ Square (Place du Tertre)

Just a short walk from the Sacré-Cœur is the Place du Tertre, also known as the Artists’ Square. Here, you can watch artists at work, creating beautiful portraits and landscapes, and even get your portrait done as a memento of your visit.

Discovering the Vineyards of Montmartre

The Montmartre Vineyard, known as Clos Montmartre, is a hidden gem. It’s one of the last remaining vineyards in Paris, producing a few hundred bottles of wine each year. While the vineyard itself is not open to the public, you can view it from the street or visit during the annual Grape Harvest Festival in October.

What to Do Near Sacré-Cœur

Visiting the Montmartre Museum

The Montmartre Museum, located just a short walk from the Sacré-Cœur, is dedicated to the history of the district. It houses a collection of works by artists who lived or worked in Montmartre, including Renoir, Valadon, and Utrillo.

Exploring the Salvador Dali Exhibition

The Espace Dalí, located near the Sacré-Cœur, is dedicated to the works of Salvador Dalí, particularly his sculptures and engravings. It’s a must-visit for art lovers.

Shopping and Dining in Montmartre

Montmartre offers a variety of shopping and dining options. You can find everything from vintage clothing stores to shops selling French pastries and cheeses. For dining, there are numerous cafes and restaurants offering everything from traditional French cuisine to more international fare.

Nearby Attractions

The Moulin Rouge

Just a short walk down the hill from the Sacré-Cœur, you’ll find the world-famous Moulin Rouge. Known for its red windmill on the roof, this historic cabaret is a symbol of the bohemian spirit of Montmartre. It’s best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance.

The Montmartre Cemetery

The Montmartre Cemetery is another nearby attraction that’s worth a visit. As the final resting place of many famous individuals, including Edgar Degas, Emile Zola, and François Truffaut, it’s a place of quiet reflection and historical significance.

The Wall of Love

Located in the Jehan Rictus garden square in Montmartre, the Wall of Love—Le mur des je t’aime—is a must-see. This mural features the words “I love you” in 250 languages, making it a popular spot for lovers and a symbol of international unity.


Why Visit Sacré-Cœur

The Sacré-Cœur is more than just a basilica; it’s a symbol of Paris’s rich history and cultural diversity. With its stunning architecture, breathtaking views of the city, and its location in the vibrant Montmartre district, it offers a unique and enriching experience for all visitors.

Essential Tips for Visitors

While entrance to the Sacré-Cœur is free, there is a small fee for visiting the dome and the crypt. The basilica is open daily, but access to the dome and crypt may be restricted during religious services. Remember to respect the sanctity of the basilica during your visit. Also, be prepared for the climb up the hill to the basilica, or consider taking the funicular.

This concludes the comprehensive guide to the Sacré-Cœur. Enjoy your visit to this iconic Parisian landmark!


I’m a History & Art lover and I am very much in love with Paris…I studied Art History at the Louvre School and I became a professional tour guide because I want to share with you my passion and my love for this city. Get my FREE guide on «How to plan your trip to Paris»  now.

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